Credit Suisse First Boston is expected shortly to begin syndicating a loan totaling approximately $950 million to support California Energy's $1.31 billion acquisition of Britain's Northern Electric PLC.

The New York investment bank also served as adviser on the deal. Northern Electric shareholders approved the unsolicited bid from Calenergy by a slim margin on Dec. 24.

BankAmerica Corp., Secura Bank, Banque Paribas, and Royal Bank of Scotland have already committed as co-agents to the loan, which will be syndicated in the middle of January in the United Kingdom.

The acquisition comes toward the end of a wave of utility consolidation in Britain that was spurred by recent deregulation.

"The consolidation is almost complete," said Ali Agha, an independent power analyst at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette Securities Inc.

Mr. Agha called the California Energy purchase a "good deal," with positive implications.

Credit Suisse has arranged a host of financings for Calenergy over the past few years, which helped it win the lead advisory and lending assignments.

"We try to focus and concentrate our interrelationships with financial institutions to get the maximum value, as opposed to always competitively bidding every piece to get the lowest price," said John Sylvia, senior vice president and chief financial officer at the Omaha-based power company.

"The lowest price doesn't necessarily mean the highest value," Mr. Sylvia said. Instead, Calenergy evaluates banks by what they can do when the growing company needs them.

Validating the efforts of investment banks like Credit Suisse First Boston to develop syndicating lending operations, Mr. Sylvia said that putting together a sizable financial commitment is becoming an increasingly important component of relationship banking.

"The commercial banks are becoming much more experienced in the nontraditional products and are adding value," Mr. Sylvia said. "One can't do a capital markets financing in three days for a transaction that is not publicly disclosed yet, whereas for a transaction such as this, you can work over the weekend and get a $900 million commitment put together."

After the blockbuster Northern Electric deal, Calenergy does not appear to have ended its acquisition plans.

"Ours is an industry that's growing and changing. You need to keep abreast of it; otherwise it'll leave you standing still," said Mr. Sylvia.

The executive said that while Calenergy is always looking for good ideas, "we want to make sure we can digest this before moving on to others."

Separately, Chase Manhattan Corp. is readying launch of a $2 billion loan for A.H. Belo Corp.'s acquisition of The Providence Journal Co.

Belo agreed at the end of September to buy the Rhode Island newspaper for $1.54 billion in cash and stock. A bank meeting is expected in Dallas this Friday.

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